A key component of any shaky cam, point-of-view style film is that it’s grounded in reality and Allen Evangelista’s Adam is vital to making that happen in Project Almanac. The film hones in on a group of friends that manage to construct a working time machine and, as any teenagers might, use it to play some pranks, win the lottery and attend a musical festival. Adam partakes in his fair share of fun and romance, but he’s also the one who insists on making safety a top priority.
While hanging out on the partial music festival set in Atlanta, Georgia, Evangelista took a quick break from barreling down the centerpiece of the scene, an enormous water slide, to dry off, sit down and discuss his experience working on the film thus far. Catch what Evangelista had to say about Adam’s role within the group, trusting first-time feature director Dean Israelite, the top-secret nature of the project and more after the jump. Project Almanac arrives in theaters on January 30th.
ALLEN EVANGELISTA: I would say if Quinn is the devil, Adam’s like the angel on the shoulders. I like to say, I think the writers helped me say this, he’s like Spock to Kirk. He’s the no-nonsense, this is strictly facts, we should be careful, we should be safer, and Quinn is like, ‘WHAT?!’ And does the exact opposite. So he’s like the good angel on the shoulders. And maybe smarter than David – ‘cause he’s Asian. [Laughs] It’s just automatic.
Is that you too or do you think you’d be the crazier type?
EVANGELISTA: I would say in between. Sadly, the stereotype is true and I’m good with numbers. I had an accounting job for a bit a while back, but yeah, I like to have fun! I play guitar and I’m actually pretty good at sports, contrary to popular belief.
Tell us about the first time you read the script and your reaction to it.
EVANGELISTA: It was one of those things where I couldn’t put it down. A lot of scripts you just read your parts and try to find your own character and I was up pretty late. I had to wake up early the next day I remember and I couldn’t stop reading it, you know? And it’s changed a lot since the very beginning, but the story’s always been really cool. Like, if you had a time machine, what would you do with it? You’re in high school, you want to be popular, do all these things, win money and have the best time ever, so I think it’s pretty true. It’s very grounded in that sense. It’s true for a high school kid.
What would you do with that time machine?
EVANGELISTA: Oh man, I’d visit every concert imaginable, and – is it wrong to say money? Because money’s always nice. I’d never complain, ‘Hey, I have too much money!’ So I wouldn’t mind winning the lotto, a couple times. And I don’t know, just see certain things. I wouldn’t mind going to the future and seeing what we develop and all that stuff. I’d be more excited about that.
Can you talk a bit about Dean’s directorial style? It’s his first movie, so what’s it like working with him?
EVANGELISTA: He’s so smart. I always picture him like he’s thinking five months ahead in the editing room when he shoots something. He’s like, ‘Okay, what else do I need,’ and he’s very precise. I know it’s his first movie, but everyone trusts him right away, and that’s the biggest thing because we’ve never shot found footage before and it’s a lot different than what we’re used to, but everyone has to trust each other, you know? One of the things he does is we’re not allowed to be in video village to watch playback. We’d love to because, you know, we want to see if we’re doing things right, but it’s a complete trust thing. We saw one clip once and it looked great, so after that we were like, ‘Oh, awesome!’
What about the project excited you most? Was it the style of the movie, the time travel aspect?
EVANGELISTA: I think it’s the Paramount, Michael Bay aspect. That’s pretty awesome. [Laughs] But I was really curious to see how they were gonna do it because in the original script, it was kind of hard to picture, why would someone be shooting this? That was the biggest question every time we have a scene is, ‘Does this make sense for someone to shoot this?’ And the script’s changed so much and it’s developed in a way like, ‘Okay! That makes sense. Yeah, they would record this.’ And that was the biggest thing for me, if that was going to be handled correctly and it has been, so everything’s been great so far!
In this scene do you get dialogue or is it purely off the top of your heads?
EVANGELISTA: It’s just coming from our heads. We have so much freedom in this. They just love us bantering, you know, as friends. The script is basically an outline most of the time and then we get to riff and run into it, so we’re not sure what’s going to make it onto the film and what’s not – but hopefully it’s gonna be funny. [Laughs]
Have you done any hanging out off set to foster that natural on-screen friendship?
EVANGELISTA: Yeah! I mean, anytime you’re on location you’re pretty much trapped with the same people and we’re all on the same floor so it’s like a college dorm room almost. So it’s fun in that sense. And, I don’t know if you guys knew this, we’ve been auditioning for this for like six or seven months. Sam and I were calling all the time. We just met during the auditions and were like, ‘Did you hear anything? Did you hear anything?’ ‘Yeah!’ ‘Oh my gosh!’ And it was the longest six months of our lives, or seven months, but we can definitely see a relationship now
EVANGELISTA: Auditions, callbacks, a lot of mix and matches, which is when they get all of us together and try us out with different people. So we were just sitting in that hallway and it’s just a bunch of different actors and you’d see some of them before and then it would just be thinning out throughout the six months. There was one thing where they weren’t sure of the lead guy yet, but Sam and I, luckily we got the jobs already and we had to go into Ralph’s and film a raw footage story, so it was like, ‘Here’s a camera, here’s a story, here’s a couple bucks. Do your thing.’ [Sam walks in.] [Sam’s] great though. I wasn’t saying mean things about him. But yeah, it was fun.
Do you get to handle the camera at all? Sam said that he did.
EVANGELISTA: There were couple times …
SAM LERNER: I’m more qualified though.
EVANGELISTA: What? It’s technology. What are you talking about? They switch it around. It’s mostly Ginny who does most of the camerawork, but they’ve switched it around a couple times. It’s fun.
This scene looks pretty cool, but is there another scene that was really awesome to shoot?
LERNER: The one the other day with all the explosions and stuff, on the table?
EVANGELISTA: Oh, yeah! We had some pyrotechnic stuff, so that was kind of cool.
It’s Michael Bay. I knew there had to be explosions!
EVANGELISTA: I know, right?
LERNER: Well, there wasn’t – let me back up for a second there! It was like some smoke and sparks going off, but it was really cool though. And then he comes and fire extinguishes me, so it’s like all in my head and …
EVANGELISTA: That was the first time you hear the whole set just crack up because it was perfect timing.
EVANGELISTA: I was shooting it into his mouth.
Brad [Fuller] was saying the movie has a lighter tone. Would you say it’s a little bit of a comedy? Are there some laughs?
EVANGELISTA: Yeah, because naturally when friends hang out people say stupid stuff. We’re basically hanging out. Every scene they just want to make us comfortable and [have] fun. What would you be doing in your living room, what would you be doing wherever you go at school and that’s the most fun thing. It’s easy to banter with these guys. It’s fun.
Brad also mentioned that the movie reflects a younger generation that’s always recording. Is that true for you guys?
EVANGELISTA: With Instagram coming out with , I just started doing it. I skipped Vine. But yeah, everyone knows everything at all times. The world is connected. I’ll know what my friend’s doing that morning. One of the things I do is I check who’s awake in the morning and I see if they’ve been on Instagram. I see someone likes something, ‘Oh, they’re awake! I’ll call them. Let’s go hang out!’ It’s funny how it is now.
LERNER: It definitely kind of reflects our generation for sure because we’re all at a concert and instead of enjoying the concert, we’re filming it.
EVANGELISTA: It’s so stressful though. I want to stop what I’m doing, I’m having a good time so I want to tape it and have to make it precise, ‘Oh, let me cut here.’ It’s such a big production that I end up not enjoying where I’m at. What are you gonna do?
Are they going to let you guys go when they shoot the actual concert footage for this?
LERNER: I don’t know. I would like to! Can you make that happen? Please?
EVANGELISTA: I heard there might be a good possibility. We’ll see. The rain has kind of backed us up a little bit so we’ll be here longer than we anticipated probably.
LERNER: Yeah, Georgia weather is nuts.
LERNER: I’ll tell you anything. What do you want to know?
[Laughs] … when you were reading the script, was there a scene you thought would be tough or one you were looking forward to?
LERNER: I’m about to have no shirt on and a bunch of girls are going to be painting on my body.
EVANGELISTA: Tough times.
LERNER: I read that and I was like, ‘Ughh! Why?’
EVANGELISTA: Reading the script and being in this weather, we were scared that it was going to be really hot and we’d be sweating our faces off.
LERNER: Which we kind of are.
EVANGELISTA: Yeah, it’s not too bad right now. We’re actually lucky. But, one scene I’m dreading? I have to kiss Ginny.
LERNER: That sucks, dude.
EVANGELISTA: I’m just kidding. [Laughs]
Can you talk about this to your friends and family or is it all top secret?
EVANGELISTA: I still haven’t announced it on Twitter or anything.
LERNER: Yeah, we can’t Tweet or Facebook or Instagram anything to do with it. I feel like it’s natural that you tell your parents what’s going on, but all the scripts are watermarked and they’re very careful about all of that.
EVANGELISTA: Out of anything I ever read, this is probably the most security-wise.
LERNER: Oh, yeah. I’ve never dealt with anything like this. There’s a secret title of the movie around here. It’s like Cinema 1.